Jakarta, May 23: At least 10,000 strong, the screaming protesters carried Indonesian flags on bamboo sticks, which doubled as weapons against anyone they perceived as the enemy.
Demonstrators first took to the streets of Indonesia’s capital on Tuesday night, after the election results were released ahead of schedule in the early hours of Tuesday morning, announcing the incumbent President Joko Widodo as the clear winner.
First, they directed their rage at police, throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails and fireworks over the razor wire, as tear gas cannisters sailed back in response.
Next, they destroyed property, some ripping bricks from the pavement and smashing them into projectile-sized pieces, while others set piles of hard plastic barricades ablaze, sending columns of acrid black smoke high into the night sky.
Then, after several hours of running street battles that saw countless victims taken away by speeding ambulances, the rioters turned on the media.
An ABC crew was set upon by a mob without warning, and only saved from serious injury or worse by unarmed Indonesian soldiers who ushered them to safety in a nearby hotel.
Indonesia is no stranger to convulsions like this, but it’s been many years since it has seen rioting on this scale and of this ferocity.
This is no longer just a noisy tantrum about an election that saw Mr Widodo returned with a margin of 17 million votes against his opponent.
Supporters of the losing candidate, former General Prabowo Subianto, now want revenge after six protesters were killed on Tuesday night — including a 15-year-old boy who was apparently shot in the head.
“Jokowi anjing!” they shouted through their facemasks, using the President’s nickname to compare him to a dog.
Jakarta Metropolitan Police said they have arrested 257 people across the two nights of violent demonstrations.
Still, the protesters are a minority among the country’s 193 million registered voters.
A hashtag condemning the violence, #TidakAtasNamaSaya, which translates to “Not in My Name”, has gone viral on social media as moderate Indonesians speak out against the rioters.
And there is a clear distinction between those who came with violent intent, and those who rallied to pray and peacefully protest against the election result. (Agencies)